Eye health is an important component to overall health for an individual of any age. However, once a person reaches the age of 60, it’s even more critical to have regular eye exams, as well as specialized tests and screenings. Most eye diseases common to seniors develop painlessly. When gone undetected for a period of time, the result can be permanent damage, vision impairment and in some cases blindness. Early symptoms of eye diseases can easily be mistaken for normal signs of aging, but they shouldn’t.
Research shows that one in three Americans age 65 and older have some type of vision-impairing eye disease. The senior population is most susceptible to four major age-related diseases. These include glaucoma, cataracts, macular degeneration and diabetic retinopathy. Here’s what you should know about these age-related eye diseases . . .
Glaucoma: At the onset of the disease, there are no symptoms; however, as glaucoma progresses an individual may notice peripheral vision impairment. The disease slowly damages the optic nerve, and when gone untreated can cause vision loss and blindness. With nearly one million Americans unaware that they have glaucoma, regular exams are detrimental to an early diagnosis.
Cataracts: This is a common cause of vision loss, and involves clouding of the eye’s lens. Cataracts are a buildup of protein that grow overtop of the lens making it difficult to see. People with symptoms may complain more about glare, cloudy or fuzzy vision and sometimes double vision. Cataracts are a part of aging, and mostly affect those over 70 years of age.
Macular Degeneration: This is a very serious condition that dramatically affects central vision. It is caused by a deterioration of the light-sensitive tissue behind the eye. People with the disease often have trouble seeing enough to read, drive, or perform normal daily activities. Age is the biggest risk factor for macular degeneration, and nearly 50% of people over the age of 75 have the disease.
Diabetic Retinopathy: This potentially blinding eye disease is associated with diabetes. Diabetes causes irregular changes in the retina’s blood vessels. This can prompt them to leak and grow in places they shouldn’t. When this happens, the blood vessels may break off and hemorrhage. Seniors with type 2 diabetes must be aware of diabetic retinopathy especially if they are on certain medications.
It’s recommended that all seniors have regular eye exams that include visual acuity, dilation and tonometry. If you’re caring for someone with one of these eye diseases, it’s important to learn about their condition and understand how it limits their abilities to do certain activities. To find out more about caregiving for someone with vision problems, contact AT Home Care today.